First Amendment News

Facebook attempts to protect U.S. census

To help safeguard the integrity of the 2020 U.S. census, Facebook is establishing guidelines for the removal of misleading posts and photos. Civil rights workers are concerned that the posts will influence vulnerable members of the community including immigrants and people of color. (The Washington Post, December 19, 2019, by Tony Romm) The Facebook policy bans ads that represent the census as “useless” or “meaningless.” Facebook allows politicians more license to stretch the truth but

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Deepfakes pose challenge in election season

Facebook stepped up to ban deepfakes to limit the spread of false news in advance of the 2020 presidential election, but the policy has been criticized for lacking the muscle to eliminate such videos as last May’s edited clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made her appear drunk. (The Washington Post, January 7, 2020, by Tony Romm, Drew Harwell and Isaac Stanley-Becker) The responsibility for mitigating the damage from such video posts falls partly

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Social media faced with invasive propaganda

TheSoul Publishing is among the top three for views on YouTube and Facebook, capitalizing on such soft content as crafts, animation and puzzle videos. But, Russian-owned and based in Cypress, it also posts history videos with strong Russian bias and occasionally a video on the U.S. history or political scene. TheSoul has purchased political ads, one that celebrates Donald Trump’s earning less as president than what most viewers make in their jobs. (Lawfare, December 18,

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Whistleblower rights strengthened in California

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that California whistleblowers can sue their state or local government employer if they suffer retaliation. The case involved Eric Bahra, a San Bernardino County man assigned to investigate alleged child abuse in a foster home. His report confirmed the abuse and revealed the county failed to correct problems with a database that tracked abuse. His employers examined his files after he submitted his report and, claimed Bahra,

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Fighting lies in age of Trump increasingly difficult

British global politics professor Brian Klaas, The Washington Post, December 18, 2019, writes that it is difficult to counter lies told by Trump partisans. TV hosts need to correct lies immediately but if they don’t invite commentators who lie, they risk being labeled anti-Trump. “Despite having been debunked over and over,” writes Klaas, “the lie [that Biden worked to dismiss a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Biden’s son] has taken root. It’s here to stay. And unless

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